Utah became “the laughingstock of the nation” because of the perception that Lori Hacking’s killer – husband Mark Hacking – might serve as little as five years in prison, says Lori’s father, Eraldo Soares. The Salt Lake Tribune says a proposed amendment to the state’s homicide statute, approved yesterday by the House Judiciary Committee, would raise the minimum penalty for murder to 15 years. The current penalty for first-degree felony murder is five years to life, an indeterminate sentence that leaves the ultimate fate of an inmate in the hands of a five-member parole board.
Although the board usually makes killers spend more than 15 years behind bars, many people do not understand that, and the families of murder victims are often traumatized when a judge hands down a sentence that suggests the killer could be out in five years, said the bill’s sponsor, Lorie Fowlke. Said Paul Boyden, executive director of the Statewide Association of Prosecutors: “Our system is effective, and we need to have people understand that it is effective.” Hacking pleaded guilty to murder last April and was sentenced to five years to life, plus an additional year for using a firearm in the crime. The parole board decided that Hacking, 29, will stay in prison at least until August 2034 before he is considered for parole.